Port Kembla home to new arts school 

A not-for-profit professional arts school has been formed in Port Kembla to teach fundamental skills to students hit hard by TAFE fee hikes.

The courses will be run by current and former Illawarra TAFE teachers, including two staffers who lost their part-time work with the institute due to recent budget cuts.

One of eight weekly classes to be offered by the new school has already been filled by students who say they cannot afford to continue studying through TAFE. 

Classes will be run out of the Wentworth Street headquarters of Red Point Artists’ Association, which is shifting focus from exhibiting art to teaching it.

Classes will include digital photography, life drawing, design and colour fundamentals, and 2D and 3D animation.

Association vice-president Val Ochalski said students would be taught by experienced practitioners ‘‘with decades of experience’’. 

Fees will be between $300 and $410, a fraction of those now charged for some TAFE courses.

‘‘We saw [the TAFE cuts] as a perfect opportunity to snap up some of the best teachers around to run these courses,’’ she said. 

‘‘It’s a real shame to see such a skill base being just dismissed. 

‘‘They’ve cut courses and increased the fees so a lot of the students who used to go to TAFE, it’s out of their reach now.’’ 

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced in September that $1.7billion would be cut from the state’s education budget over four years, with $80million – and 800 jobs – to be cut from TAFE NSW.

Course fees in government-supported courses have increased by 9.5per cent, while fine arts courses are now not subsidised at all, causing fees hikes of up to 700per cent in fine arts.  

The courses will be run Monday to Friday for nine weeks, but scheduling is somewhat flexible and will ultimately depend on demand.

Enrolments will be taken at the school, 100 Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, on January 29-31, between 11am and 2pm. 

Classes start on February 5. 

For more information phone 0401328022.

Karen Hook (left) and Val Ochalski at the Red Point Artists studio. Picture: DAVE TEASE

Karen Hook (left) and Val Ochalski at the Red Point Artists studio. Picture: DAVE TEASE


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